The University of Hawai‘i (UH) is one of the founding partners of a new initiative led by Clemson University to enable a national network of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Research and Education Facilitators (ACI-REFs) that will broaden the research and education impacts of advanced computing resources at campuses across the country.
Advanced cyberinfrastructure refers to high-performance computing systems, massive data storage systems, and visualization environments, all linked together by software and high-performance networks to enable human collaborations that improve education and research productivity and enable breakthroughs not otherwise possible.
The National Science Foundation awarded the group $5.3 million over two years to broaden cyberinfrastructure education and outreach through this network. Besides Clemson and UH, the other collaborating institutions are the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Wisconsin, and Harvard University.
The project, called the Advanced Cyberinfrastructure – Research and Educational Facilitation: Campus-Based Computational Research Support, is a consortium that brings together education and research institutions that are committed to the vision of advancing scientific discovery by creating a national network of advanced cyberinfrastructure facilitators. UH will be able to hire two advanced cyberinfrastructure facilitators for two years under the initial project grant.
“The University of Hawai‘i is delighted to be working with Clemson and our other partners to develop this innovative consortium,” said David Lassner, the Interim President at the University of Hawai‘i. “Data-intensive science and engineering is a major thrust for the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative (HI2), and the advanced cyberinfrastructure facilitator capability that will be supported is exactly what we need to help many of our gifted faculty and students take their scholarship to the next level by leveraging local and national cyberinfrastructure and collaborations.”
Working together in a coordinated effort, the consortium is dedicated to the adoption of models and strategies that will leverage the expertise and experiences of its members to maximize the impact of investment in research computing and related cyberinfrastructure technologies. The project staff will be located on the six collaborating campuses. They will be fully embedded in their local technology support environments so they can both extend the reach and impact of the campus as well as make national research computing infrastructure available for local students and faculty.
Gwen Jacobs, UH Director of Cyberinfrastructure in Information Technology Services, will lead UH participation in the project. She will be working with faculty throughout the UH System to identify opportunities where local and national cyberinfrastructure assets can advance UH research and innovation. Jacobs said, “UH is an international research leader in astronomy, earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences, and biomedical research – all disciplines that generate massive amounts of data. With access to a wealth of computational resources and professional expertise, UH researchers will be able to apply new methods in big data analytics to their research programs, speeding scientific discovery and innovation and creating new educational opportunities for UH students.”
The consortium is forging a nationwide alliance of educators to empower local campus researchers to be more effective users of advanced cyberinfrastructure. In particular, the project seeks to work with scholars and faculty members who traditionally have not benefitted from the power of high-performance computing but who recognize that their research requires access to more computational power than can be provided by their desktop machines.
“This project complements and magnifies the work we have underway to establish our first university-wide high-performance computing cluster,” said Vassilis Syrmos, UH Vice President for Research and Innovation.
That high-performance computing cluster will be located in UH’s new $41-million Information Technology Center. Interim Vice President for Information Technology Steve Smith said “The new high-performance computing cluster is the first initiative that will leverage the capabilities of our state-of-the-art Information Technology Center to advance research and innovation at UH. This project couldn’t have moved forward without the new building.”
The national project team will be led by Jim Bottum, the Chief Information Officer at Clemson with a leadership team that includes co-principal investigator Gwen Jacobs of UH, and lead scientists from each institution. The steering committee includes Glenn Ricart, Chief Technology Officer of the US Ignite Project; Greg Monaco, Director for Research and Cyberinfrastructure Initiatives at the Great Plains Network; and John Towns, the principal investigator of the NSF-funded national scale XSEDE high-performance computing program. Miron Livny, Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin and principal investigator of the NSF-funded Open Science Grid will also serve on the project’s steering committee and serve as the Chief Scientist for the project.
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